GREECE, NY (PIX11) – Three of the middle-school kids who viciously taunted a 68-year-old bus monitor—and then posted the video on YouTube—sent letters of apology to Karen Klein, as the father of one boy paid Klein a visit at her home Friday to say he was sorry.
“Saying sorry to Karen was a big part of healing this wound that’s been opened,” Robert Helm, the father of one 7th grader, said to WROC-TV, after getting a hug from the verbally victimized monitor, who’s a mother and grandmother. “Hopefully, people will see this and see that we are reaching out and trying to do the right thing here.”
The harried monitor, who earns about $15,000 a year, could now collect more than $500,000 from a fund that was established to send her on vacation. The fund on the website indiegogo.com was up to $560,000 at 5:30 pm Friday and growing rapidly. The original goal of the fund, when it was set up two days ago, was to raise $5,000, so Karen Klein could enjoy a nice vacation. She now could potentially retire!
The cell phone video that was posted on YouTube by one of the 13 year old taunters on the school bus went viral, and as of midday Friday, was viewed by more than two million people.
The violent, personal nature of the verbal attacks was especially disturbing.
The boys take turns calling Karen Klein a “troll” and a piece of lard and then the harassment escalates. They threaten to cut her with a knife and then one kid shouts, “What’s your address, so I can piss on your door.” This remark drew a look of horror and disgust from the elderly bus monitor, who told the nasty kids at one point, “Unless you have something nice to say, don’t say anything.”
Klein appeared on CNN Thursday night, a guest on Anderson Cooper’s show. Cooper asked her what kind of punishment the middle-school boys should get. Klein replied, “At least kept off the bus for a year….and be forbidden to play any sports for a year.” Klein added that community service would be a good thing, but she doesn’t want the boys to be prosecuted criminally.
Some of the boys have sent Klein letters of apology, including a kid named Josh. “I am so sorry for the way I treated you,” Josh said in his letter. “When I saw the video, I was disgusted and could not believe I did that. I will never treat anyone that way again.”
Klein was not initially inclined to forgive Josh. She said, “Josh, he always has that smirk on his face. Maybe that’s just the way he looks.” Later she said, “I don’t think I’d believe anything Josh would say.”
But Klein was moved by the gesture of one boy’s father, Robert Helm, who showed up at her doorstep to apologize and then received a hug from the bus monitor.
When she referred to the boy, Helm said, “There’s no excuse,” and he proceeded to apologize some more.
While the boys have become social pariahs, receiving hundreds of threats by phone and text, Karen Klein is getting plenty of perks.
“You gotta be kidding!” Klein said with glee. “Awesome.”
When Cooper asked Klein who she’d like to bring, she replied, “My family.” Then, Klein added with a chuckle, “minus a couple of them.”